I'm a hitch-hiker. I just returned home from a trip all over Ireland. It's a great way to get around. You get to meet some really lovely people.
Some advise: Travel as a male and female pair. You will increase your chances of getting a lift as people seem to be generally less threatened or more accepting of couples. With two male hikers, you can see why women wouldn't be too quick to pick them up. Two women; men will be hesitant in fear that sexual assault may be claimed in the hope of a court settlement. I think people are quite wary these days (in Ireland at least).
This part is not meant to scare you... Carry a whistle. If you get into a situation you are not comfortable with, just whip it out and blow as hard as you can. Personally, I don't carry one, but I am confident in my ability to defend myself having practised karate for over 12 years. Most of the people you will meet will be the loveliest people on earth, but you can never be too careful these days.
Depending on how far you are going, you will need more than a "few hundred". Money can just fly out of your pocket when you're on the road. Food will be a big expenditure, as will accommodation (unless you camp or couchsurf). Camping will be far easier to do as hosts will need to know in advance when you will arrive. And, how can you even know when that might be?
Check out this site for when you're planning your trip.http://hitchwiki.org/
I highly suggest that you do actually couchsurf if you plan to stay in a city for a few days andthink you can judge when you arrive fairly accurately. You will need to get some references on your profile first though. Go and look at the activities in your area, meet the people,join in the activities and have fun. Or host if you can (even better).
I leave for New Zealand in just over two weeks, so i will be doing a lot of this kind of thing over the next year.
Have fun, stay safe and don't get in a car if you get any kind of bad vibe off the people. Remember, you can be too safe. Just have an excuse made up. Maybe they are not going far enough, or something of that nature. I've only had to do this once. Everyone else I've met were just deadly people, often hitchers themselves.